On Sunday, California governor Jerry Brown weighed in on the Democratic Party controversy over whether abortion should be a litmus test for becoming a party candidate, arguing, according to The Hill, that it would not be a helpful standard nationwide.
“Well, the litmus test should be intelligence, caring about, as Harry Truman or Roosevelt used to call it, the common man,” Brown told NBC’s “Meet the Press” when asked by host Chuck Todd if abortion should be the litmus test for his party.
“We’re not going to get everybody on board. And I’m sorry, but running in San Francisco is not like running in Tulare County or Modoc, California, much less Mobile, Alabama.”
In calling for a less ideological party, Brown is attempting to be pragmatic about local variations across the country, but his advice is more crucial to the future of the Democratic Party than he may even realize.
The Democratic civil war over the abortion issue is taking place between what can be termed the “violence and death” wing of the party and the “compassionate, but misguided” wing. The former is the wing that violently protests any speakers whose speech they don’t approve of and excuse riots in response to unfavorable presidential elections. They see the ends as justifying any means. The latter are those who, like Brown said, care about the common man, but they are wrong that liberal policies will improve the lives of Americans. They, unlike the violence and death wing, are generally pro-choice, again for compassionate, but misguided reasons, but are not dogmatic about others adhering to their views.
As millennial Christians break with their parents’ generation regarding the GOP in the age of Trump, some may be curious about other parties. The Democratic Party will rarely be seen as an option if it insists on being pro-choice. If they want to take advantage of the potential to pick up a slice of an engaged voting bloc, Democrats needs to begin to see Christians not as religious extremists, but as people with legitimate views. In short, the more compassionate, less violence-and-death-oriented wing needs to triumph. Again, Governor Brown seems to recognize this better than most:
So I’d say, look, even on the abortion issue, it wasn’t very long ago that a number of Catholic Democrats were opposed to abortion. So the fact that somebody believes today what most people believed 50 years ago should not be the basis for their exclusion,” Brown explained.
Brown and other big tent Democrats have their work cut out for them. Newsmax recently summarized the intra-party civil war over abortion, after Ben Ray Lujan, Democratic representative from New Mexico, told The Hill that the party would provide financial support to pro-life candidates.
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who ran the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009, responded on Twitter to Lujan’s remarks, stating: “I’m afraid I’ll be withholding support for the DCCC if this is true.”
That may have been one of the milder reactions. Among the others:
Liberal journalist Lauren Duca called the move “a betrayal of every woman who has ever supported the Democratic Party.”
Destiny Lopez, co-director of the pro-abortion group All Above All, released a news release stating “It’s short-sighted and dangerous to pave the path to victory in 2018 at the expense of women.”
Mitchell Stille, a national campaign director for NARAL, told The Hill: “Throwing weight behind anti-choice candidates is bad politics that will lead to worse policy. The idea that jettisoning this issue wins elections for Democrats is folly contradicted by all available data.”
NARAL President Ilyse Hogue tweeted: “Ignoring women’s fundamental freedoms and equality to win elections is both an ethically and politically bankrupt strategy.”
Brown joins Bernie Sanders — also a dissenter on the issue of violent protests who condemned threats against Ann Coulter when she was scheduled to speak at Berkeley — and DNC deputy chairman Keith Ellison, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, all of whom are themselves pro-choice, in at least allowing for some dissent on the issue. In spite of these influential members, the party is a long way from making a shift on life. As I argued at RedState back in April, “violence is the way the Left is increasingly attempting to solve its problems.” It is moving away from valuing life, not towards it.
As someone who is pro-life above all other issues, I hope that a shift away from abortion occurs within the Democratic Party. I also agree with Governor Brown that the party could use an intelligence litmus test, at least among those who create its slogans. I just don’t see either changing anytime soon.